It could get here.  It’s a definite non-zero chance, and once it is here and spreading, it will be Katy-Bar-the-Door.  So far, it is technically not airborne, but that doesn’t mean what you think it means.  There is significant circumstantial evidence that it spreads via Droplet infection, which means sneezing and coughing will spread it in the immediate area.  It is also infectious for several days to several weeks before you show symptoms, meaning someone who looks perfectly normal could in fact be infecting you with Ebola.  Also, it can live on a surface for around four days, meaning once a surface is contaminated, it will be contaminated for a long time.

So what will this mean?  First, I don’t think martial law will happen, because it won’t be necessary.  People will voluntarily quarantine themselves.  When Ebola starts spreading in America, no one is going to leave the house.  This will be a wise and rational choice.  You aren’t going to catch it inside your own house.  Once it is spreading, however, you can catch it from the door handle to the office bathroom, the counter at the convenience store, the server at the McDonalds, or anything else you simply touch or any other person you get close to (sneezing range is about 6 feet.)

So everyone will stay home.  Practically everyone.  The people who can’t stay home (police, medical, public services) will keep catching it.  Cops are going to be on skeleton crews quickly, hospitals and ambulance services will be the same.  Because public services like the electric grid, water, sewage, gas, etc, require constant upkeep and maintenance, those things will begin failing as the people who maintain them get sick.  Power and water won’t fail completely, but there will be outages, and when outages happen, it will take a while to fix them.

So what do you do?  Plan ahead.  Most of this stuff is the same as for any other unexpected emergency, and you should already be prepared.  If not, this is as good a reason as any.

Stock protective gear.  Buy N-95 masks now.  N-95 is the minimum protection you’ll need.  If it is just droplet infection, then surgical/dust masks might be enough, but if this thing is airborne and we just don’t know it, you’ll need N-95.  These masks are good to have on hand regardless — they aren’t especially expensive, they are great for painting or dealing with other chemicals, and they are what you are going to want for any pandemic, not just Ebola.

Get disposable gloves.  They also aren’t expensive, and you should have a ton of them with your first aid gear.  When there isn’t a national emergency on, you’ll find lots of other uses for them, like the aforementioned painting, or my most common use, changing the cat box.

These are things you need to get now.  If you try to find them once there is a panic, you will be shit out of luck.  Finding N-95 masks was impossible when N1H1 was terrifying everyone.  Right now, it is trivial.  You can get both of these from your local Home Depot, Amazon, or U-line.  Clorox wipes aren’t a bad idea to have around either.

Stock food.  Going to the grocery store will be possible, but rife with peril.  The longer you can avoid it, the better.  You’ll have to have protective gear and go through an entire decontamination regimen every time you go, including decontaminating the things you buy.  Have lots of soap and a good amount of plain-old bleach handy, too — if this shit happens, you’ll need it.  Make sure you have a spray bottle or five on hand to put bleach-sanitizer solution in to spray your purchases with.

Have a plan for dealing with a lack of water, gas or electrical service.  I don’t expect these things to fail in the way an EMP attack would — it’s more like a warzone or third world country.  They will be unreliable.  Blackouts will happen and last for hours or days.  Water will interrupt for hours or days, be at low pressure, or need to be boiled/filtered.

Stock up on your meds.  The medical system will be completely overloaded with just a few hundred cases from the panic and the infection rate of medical personnel.  They are partially overloaded already on any given day.  Pharmacies or hospitals will be places you want to go only as a last resort.  Going to a hospital will mean, like it means now in Ghana, almost certain infection.  It practically means that now with MRSA, and it’s not nearly as deadly as Ebola.  MRSA is harder to spread than Ebola, and think about how widespread it is, especially among medical professionals.  Try to keep at least 60 days on hand.

Those are the things you need to do now, before it is too late.  I won’t scare you with what you will need to know during the outbreak until it is evident that it is going to happen.  This is the stuff you need to know in case the outbreak gets here.

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